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Microsoft Tag

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So I am finally going to post something that isnt directly related to what I've done for the Microsoft Student Insider Program, instead on just some cool stuff I've found.

Microsoft Tag (Beta)
This isn't news to anyone most likely since Microsoft has been working on this for a while. But I stumbled across it recently, and I was quite impressed with what is being worked on. For those who are unfamiliar they look like the following:

Attached File  mstag_preview.bmp (1.36MB)
Number of downloads: 340

By using a series of triangles at different positions, orientations, and colors (they support black and white as well. Microsoft has been expand the usefulness to a far greater sum of data. They refer to these as High Capacity Color Bar-codes (HCCBs). The tags can also have customizable backgrounds, allowing for a more personal tag, especially for ones relating to business cards. Microsoft also claims that they take up to 25% less space than your standard bar code.

Right now they support 4 types of bar codes that a user can create, in addition to be able to password protect the information as well. Text, URL, VCard, & Dialer.
Text- Is quite simply that, just a simple text field that you want to store within the tag
URL - Creates a hyperlink to a website
VCard - You can either upload your business card or fill in information to create a contact card
Dialer - Stores a phone number to allow your phone to call.

So the big question(s) is does it work? and does it work well?
Well if you haven't glazed over my post then you can probably guess that my answer is yes, to both those questions. Below I'll share my experience in hopes that you might believe me.

So after reading about MS Tags I found a link to create one, and clicked on it, naturally I had the option of logging into my live account (which are free for those who don't have one) and I only had to accept the MS Tag License Agreement. So I got to the Manage Tags screen, and clicked on the big blue button, "Create new tag.". The options for all the tags are a tag title (unique reference in human language), the tag type (one of the four mentioned above), start date, end date, and the respective content fields. Of the four types I started out with the simplest and just created one with text containing a random phrase. Second I created a URL tag (the one seen above) which has D.I.C.'s home page. The third was the dialer, I put my girlfriends number in. I figured she would enjoy a call out of the blue. Lastly I created the VCard, which had the option of uploading a card or filling in information. I went with the fill in, and dropped my work info into the fields. The entire process took about 5 minutes at most.

Now for the reader, well the reader is software for your phone, which always makes me worry about will mine support it. However a month ago I got an HTC Tilt 2, so I was in the clear for this one since it runs windows mobile. There is a pretty decent support for pretty much any smart phone (and obviously ur phone needs a camera). So punching in my number in MS's Get Reader Website I got texted a link which I selected either OS or I could have searched via manufacturer. The download was small, and the installation was quick. On opening the program it boots up your camera and puts a red square in the center of the screen. All you have to do is get the tag inside the red square, no clicking, or saving the image, just center it and the TagReader will recognize and reproduce the data. It was surprisingly quick to pickup on the tag, I didn't have to hold it there for a few seconds and wait. In fact I didn't even have it aligned or centered before it captured the tag (which leads me to believe MS when they say that the Tag can even be blurry and it will still work). So heres what happened to each type:

Text - A popup came up almost right after I scanned the tag with the name of the tag and the phrase it contained
URL - Opened up IE mobile and sent me to a tag.Microsoft link which quickly re-directed to dreamincode
VCard - Prompted me if I wanted to save, after saying yes I went to my contact list to find myself and all the information associated there as well. ( I think its the most complete contact i have in my contact list, lol).
Dialer - By far the coolest feature I think. So i scan the tag with my girlfriend's number. a pop up comes up saying Are you sure you wish to dial <<Tag Title here>> at <<phone number here>>? hit yes and it started dialing and ringing. Of course I confused her when I told her I called her with a colorful bar code, but I'll let her mull over that one for a while trying to figure it out.

All in all, it took me longer to write this post than it did to actually play with the reader and tags. Its definitely a cool fun thing to try out. And who knows in the near future you could be walking down a store with your phone out and seeing something like this:

Posted Image
( Assuming Microsoft gets its way :) )

2 Comments On This Entry

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06 April 2010 - 03:48 PM
You should have a look at QR Codes. They've been doing this in Japan for years (or alteast, the URL part).


07 April 2010 - 08:07 AM
Ya I've seen those before, and its not surprising Japan is way ahead of the technology curve :P

I'll looked into the differences between them, it looks like the key difference is QR Codes store the information within itself, and MS Tags just store an ID. Advantage for MS Tags is that you can change and update the information without re-distributing the Tag. However I would guess your in trouble if your offline.
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